ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The acting police chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department said a controversial tool could've helped investigators track down the Capital Gazette gunman before his deadly rampage.
Geofeedia is a social media intelligence tool that helps identify a user’s location based on where they post to their social media account. Acting police chief William Kampf said his department lost access to the tool, which has limited their abilities to track individuals like suspected gunman Jarrod Ramos.
“We get at least one threat a day so it’s hard to keep up with them. But I'll say this again, we lost a great tool with Geofeedia a couple years ago. It was the national conscience that decided that we weren’t going to be able to use it, but it made our jobs a lot easier as it relates to following things, phrases, areas on social media,” Kampf said.
Authorities said Ramos opened fire at the Capital Gazette in a targeted attack, killing five and injuring several others.
In 2016, the ACLU of Northern California targeted Geofeedia for using social media posts to help law enforcement and other agencies monitor protesters and activists. The findings were reported to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — who all cut Geofeedia’s access to their data as a result.
According to the ACLU in Northern California, at one point, the company provided location-based intelligence to over 500 law enforcement agencies, but Geofeedia has since cut its staff in half due to many organizations severing ties due to their controversial strategy of collecting data.
The specific reason as to why Anne Arundel County police no longer used the tool was unclear.